Crime & Courts
Woman testifies salesman raped her
TAMPA - She tried to fight back until her attacker slapped her five times and choked her so hard her nose started bleeding, jurors were told. Fearing for her life, the woman said she succumbed to the demands of a man who tried to sell her a home security system a few minutes before. “He brings me into my bedroom,” the woman said, “and he tells me I have a nice place. At that point I’d given up because I thought he was going to kill me.” The woman, who is not being identified because of the nature of the incident, was the first witness called to the stand Tuesday during the trial of Rashad Hales. Hales is charged with three counts of sexual battery, attempted second-degree murder, kidnapping, armed burglary with battery and witness tampering.Hales, 20, worked for SecureWatch, an authorized dealer for ADT, prosecutors said, and was going door-to-door in a Citrus Park neighborhood on Dec. 30, 2011, selling security systems. What was a normal day in the woman’s life “turned into a night of terror when Rashad Hales came to her door,” Assistant State Attorney Rita Peters said in her opening statement. “The same man who was trying to sell her peace of mind and security instead instilled terror, fear and violence.” Hales knocked on the door of the woman’s home about 5:50 p.m. that day. She said she turned him away but Hales knocked again about five minutes later. When she tried to close the door, Hales grabbed her wrist and forced his way inside, deputies said. Investigators said Hales beat her, choked her from behind with his forearm and put an electrical cord around her neck. Peters said Hales was going through a “dry sexual spell” and that his ego, frustration and need for control led to the rape. Public defender Kenneth Littman told the jury during opening statements that the “only DNA evidence found” belonged to the woman’s boyfriend, not Hales. Jacqueline Angelo, a forensics analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, testified, though, that a swab from Hales contained DNA from the woman. Prosecutors also called to the stand three former coworkers of Hales, who each said that they last saw Hales about noon on Dec. 30 and didn’t see him again until about 8:30 that night. The workers heard from Hales hours later, when he called the team leader’s cellphone and told her he needed to be picked up at a nearby gas station, employee Guillermo Maldonado said. “Next thing we know, he was running toward us,” Maldonado said. “It was like a movie. He jumped into the van through an open window and he said, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.’
Maldonado said he then heard a small crowd of people in the parking lot shouting at the van and saying Hales had broken into a house and raped a woman.
The trial is expected to conclude Wednesday.